Sense of Belonging to Layers of Lesbian Community Weakens the Link Between Body Image Dissatisfaction and Depressive Symptoms

Sarah Hanley, Suzanne McLaren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is evidence to suggest that body image dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms are related among lesbians and that the strength of this relationship may be influenced by individuals’ sense of belonging to the lesbian community at each of the three layers: broad, organizational, and friendship. The broad layer provides an overarching ideology and, within this layer, individuals may not have direct contact with each other. The organizational layer is represented by groups, organizations, or activities, which exist to bring together lesbians who have a shared interest or proximity, such as lesbian support, social, or interest groups. The friendship layer refers to one’s personal network of friends, and it provides general support and acceptance of oneself as a whole person. A sample of 162 self-identified Australian lesbians completed measures of body image satisfaction, depressive symptoms, and sense of belonging. Results demonstrated that sense of belonging to each layer moderated the body image dissatisfaction→depressive symptoms relationship such that the relationship weakens with increasingly higher levels of sense of belonging. Results further showed that high levels of sense of belonging to the organizational and friendship layers were particularly protective. Examining each layer of community simultaneously has shown the importance of more intimate relationships, in addition to the relationships at the broad layer. The results have significant implications for treatment interventions. Practitioners should consider ways to connect lesbians to these more intimate layers of community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Women Quarterly
Volume39
Issue number1
Early online date24 Feb 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2015

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body image
Body Image
friendship
Depression
community
interest group
ideology
acceptance
contact
Public Opinion
human being
evidence
Sexual Minorities
Depressive Symptoms
Lesbian
Layer
Group
Organizations

Cite this

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abstract = "There is evidence to suggest that body image dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms are related among lesbians and that the strength of this relationship may be influenced by individuals’ sense of belonging to the lesbian community at each of the three layers: broad, organizational, and friendship. The broad layer provides an overarching ideology and, within this layer, individuals may not have direct contact with each other. The organizational layer is represented by groups, organizations, or activities, which exist to bring together lesbians who have a shared interest or proximity, such as lesbian support, social, or interest groups. The friendship layer refers to one’s personal network of friends, and it provides general support and acceptance of oneself as a whole person. A sample of 162 self-identified Australian lesbians completed measures of body image satisfaction, depressive symptoms, and sense of belonging. Results demonstrated that sense of belonging to each layer moderated the body image dissatisfaction→depressive symptoms relationship such that the relationship weakens with increasingly higher levels of sense of belonging. Results further showed that high levels of sense of belonging to the organizational and friendship layers were particularly protective. Examining each layer of community simultaneously has shown the importance of more intimate relationships, in addition to the relationships at the broad layer. The results have significant implications for treatment interventions. Practitioners should consider ways to connect lesbians to these more intimate layers of community.",
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